Meta’s Dan Neary says business messaging technologies are able to provide businesses of all sizes with capabilities for accelerated reach. 

In business, relationships are everything and every trusted relationship starts with a conversation. Over the years accelerated by COVID-19, we have seen fundamental shifts in how people and businesses connect, especially with the uptake of e-commerce. Today, people and businesses are increasingly connecting through messaging.

Across Asia Pacific, we are seeing a growing and rapid adoption of business messaging among consumers of all age groups, as well as businesses of all sizes, a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic. Based on research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Meta, over 40% of people surveyed said they were messaging with a business more frequently than compared with the pre-pandemic period, with one in three consumers chatting with businesses at least once a week.

The trend was similar across all age groups, especially among millennials and Gen Z, who are messaging businesses up to eight times every month.

Messaging for businesses of all sizes and across industries

While smaller businesses have been using business messaging to digitise and scale their online presence for years, large businesses are starting to recognise messaging as a critical component of their business model. Seven in 10 large businesses rated messaging as very or extremely important to their overall business. Take food and beverage giant Nestlé for example – Nestlé IndoChina started piloting business messaging for their brand, Boost, via Meta’s Messenger, with the aim to engage consumers end-to-end. Their communication spans the entire sales funnel from lead generation to purchase to feedback collection and everything in between. They are using this pilot as a proof-of-concept to potentially scale the solution to other businesses from coffee to pet care.

Furthermore, messaging is creating huge opportunities for businesses across a broad spectrum of industries from food and fashion to financial services (finserv) and electronics. Finserv, in particular, is emerging as a high potential vertical for business messaging, according to the BCG & Meta study, with consumers across APAC saying it was important for them to message a business before they signed up for a financial product.

Bank Central Asia, for example, used WhatsApp Business API to improve pre-sales conversations for its auto loan service. This helped Indonesia’s largest bank attract more high-quality customers, resulting in a 5x increase in conversions.

Future of customer communication

As we see a shift towards online shopping, businesses need to be prepared to take their communications online.

  • 90% of businesses feel that messaging apps are important for their success. This covers everything from connecting consumers to a service agent, to having chatbots manage standardised tasks like purchasing a product, or making a booking or reservation, to advertising, where businesses can implement a click-to-message experience to start a conversation.
  • 80% of consumers plan to continue using messaging to interact with businesses. The simplicity of being able to click on an ad and start a conversation easily with a business is proving to be a very powerful driver in building relationships and driving engagement beyond just sales.

So how can brands start their business messaging journey? 

1. Define clear objectives for messaging

Evaluate the potential of messaging throughout the whole customer journey and see where it can help solve unique pain points in each phase, depending on business context and challenges.

Grab, the super app company offering transportation, food delivery and digital payments services, needed to address customers’ questions as quickly as possible and maintain customer satisfaction. By building a Messenger-powered multilingual digital assistant, Grab is able to provide automated answers to frequently asked questions and seamlessly transfer customers with more complex queries to a live agent. This has helped to decrease the online customer enquiries backlog by 90% and the company is now looking to launch a Messenger-powered solution for its GrabFood service.

2. Prioritise business messaging in your marketing strategy

Customers want to hear from businesses when the information is timely, deeply personal and relevant. Build conversations that are seamless and go deeper, providing customers a convenient and smooth shopping experience.

Young Healthy Lush (YHL), a Vietnamese skincare company, sees business messaging as an always-on medium that helps the company to connect with new and existing customers, and expand lead generation. Their customers value the personal connection and advice more than having to research skincare and beauty products online and making a decision themselves. Messaging has enabled YHL to provide that personalised consultation at scale and offer a platform for customers to raise any specific concerns or questions with YHL’s beauty consultation team before purchasing any of their products.

3. Adopt third party messaging technology solutions to scale capabilities

This can result in higher chat conversion rates and ability to handle large volumes of enquiries. For example, Thai menswear brand era-won created a Messenger-powered digital assistant to respond to their large volume of customer queries. This allowed them to keep customers updated about tracking numbers and order delivery status, providing customers with a convenient and smooth shopping experience. And Messenger increased return on ad spending for era-won by 800%.